Clark v. Duke: The Struggle for Water Rights and the Future of North Carolina’s Public Energy Policy

Aerial view of Duke Power Company’s steam-generating Belmont Power plant on the Catawba River near Charlotte, NC, Buchanan, State Archives of North Carolina.

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Clark v. Duke: The Struggle for Water Rights and the Future of North Carolina’s Public Energy Policy

by John James Kaiser
Southern Cultures, Vol. 20, No. 3: Southern Waters

"'There will be no coal to go in, no ashes to go out, no gas, no soot, no dirt.'"

Leading North Carolinians, among them James B. Duke, the fortune behind the American Tobacco and Southern Power companies, crowded into a Raleigh courtroom in November 1920. The state’s Corporation Commission was considering the Southern Power Company’s application for a rate increase—the first application of its kind by a North Carolina public energy corporation, and the first decision by the Corporation Commission on electrical rates. That North Carolina’s Corporation Commission would consider, and later exercise, regulatory control over the state’s largest power company—owned by the South’s wealthiest industrialist—would not have been possible less than a year earlier.